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On the Farm

How to Support Local FFAs In Business and In Life

There’s no doubt that supporting local farmers is important — locally grown food is better for the environment, your community and you! When you support small or local farmers, not only can you enjoy real, seasonable, fresh produce without harmful chemicals or preservatives, but you’re also supporting and strengthening your local community for future generations. Everyone wins!

 American Family Agent John Lytell is producing honey locally and supporting local agriculture organizations such as FFA

But you might be asking yourself, “How can I support these hard-working farmers?” Well, you’re in luck! There are tons of ways to get involved — especially if you’re a small business owner. Your company can support local farmers by partnering with agricultural associations like the National FFA Organization, previously known as Future Farmers of America (FFA).

Not a small business owner? Don’t sweat it! We’ll walk through ways to support farmers in your personal life as well.

We interviewed John Lytell, an American Family Insurance agent in Indiana, and he shared with us how he’s supporting future farmers in his area with his small business and life outside of work. Here’s what he has to say.

Why Is Supporting Agricultural Organizations Like FFA Important?

When asked about the importance of supporting FFA, John gave us the facts: it’s about preserving the future of both farmers and your community.

John says, “The FFA and other organizations like it are important to every community, it helps guide and develop any willing and motivated young person to learn about and pursue an avenue in agriculture. This is a big deal as the average age of a farmer is 57.5 and climbing, per the USDA data released in 2017.”

What Inspired You to Partner Your Small Business with FFA?

While John admits that he initially partnered with FFA to grow his business, over time it grew into something more.

“Initially, in 2014, I wanted referrals. We had done well sponsoring the local athletics departments in the bi-county area and using that same mindset that parents and grandparents will shop local and at least think about us for a quote. That hair-brained idea turned into a passion to see our local young people grow in athletics and in farming.”

John continues, saying, “It’s good to get referrals, but it’s not about that. For the past five years it has been humbling to help young people who would have otherwise not found their passion and drive for life.”

When it comes to setting a goal, remember — it’s okay if the end game changes! For John, his goal was to simply grow his business, but it became so much more and ended up doing good for others and giving back to the community. Be flexible and ready to adapt to changes in the plan! Sometimes, the best kind of business is good for others and gives back to the community.

How Do You Support the FFA Organization as a Business Owner?

There are many ways to get involved as a small business. John has used his business to help these young farmers through sponsorships and mentorships.

John says as an entrepreneur he provides insights and guidance to young farmers in his area. According to him he helps them with business hurdles like calculating feed cost, reviewing budgets and market plans, explaining the value of good insurance coverage, defining compound interest, discussing farm loans and other things to help them as fellow business owners.

Are there other ways businesses can help?

When asked if there are other ways to get involved, John recommends making sure it’s specific to your local agricultural association.

He says, “Call your local FFA office, they have opportunities ranging from ticket taking to cow judging. Small business owners have multiple skills and talents that cross over into the agriculture world. Farmers deal with terms and concepts like ROI, profit and loss, taxes and SOPs to name a few. It’s like helping a new agent, except instead of prospecting new leads and helping them ‘plant the seed,’ they are literally planting the seed.”

How Can I Help Local Farmers?

John encourages those who want to support their local farmers to volunteer their time, attend events or simply donate.

When it comes to volunteering, John urges anyone with a business background to provide their knowledge to young farmers. “Most of the young farmers have agriculture resources, but they also need the business savviness that’s vastly needed in today’s ag markets.

You can support FFA by attending events as well. John says, “Any event you can, show your support for the FFA young adults. Show them you care and be there as a mentor and a friend of the community. For information or to see what FFA is all about, go to the national convention.” The FFA is also offering virtual options to get involved this year.

If you can’t volunteer or attend events, consider donating to FFA, which can be done securely online, over the phone or through the mail. Donations are a great way you can help provide the resources for agricultural education, ways to recognize member achievements and develop student leaders. Interested in learning more about ways to support FFA? Head here.

What Advice Would You Give to Someone Looking to Volunteer with FFA?

John advises anyone looking to volunteer to plan ahead. “Pick a few weekends in the spring, summer and fall and call your local FFA office to do something. These young adults will restore your faith in our young people. You’ll be a part of their success and you might even learn a few things along the way.”

 American Family Agent John Lytell is producing beeswax soap and providing tips for supporting agricultural organizations

If you’re looking for more inspiration to volunteer, learn more about how other employees live out their dreams by giving back.

How Has Supporting Your Local FFA Made a Lasting Impact?

For John, being part of the FFA program has made a lasting impression. Since partnering with them, he’s picked up a farming side gig thanks to the connections he’s made.

“I have 10 beehives now and when I’m not doing insurance or coaching football, I’m getting ready to raise bees thanks to the relationships I have built through the FFA and referrals from other farmers,” John said.

 American Family Agent John Lytell now keeps beehives as a side gig while supporting local ag orgs like FFA

When first getting involved with FFA, John didn’t realize all the good that would come it — for him and for others. So keep that in mind as you look for ways your small business can make an impact! Remember, whether it’s partnering with FFA, supporting the next generation of farmers or finding other ways to support all kinds of dreamers in your community, you can make a real difference. Whatever you do to show your support, at the end of the day, it’s about people helping people.

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Related Topics: Farm Insurance